Few things make me happier than giant robots. Long time PopLurker followers know that I have pretty thorough robot stoke. So of course, when there’s a combination of giant robots and toys, it’s about as good as it can get. And when custom jumbo artist Tom Hughes showed me pictures of his collection and creations, I knew he had to be in a PopLurker Artist Spotlight feature!
Would you please introduce yourself for PopLurker readers? What is your name, where do you live, and what sort of art do you produce?
My name is Tom Hughes and I live just East of Pittsburgh. I make custom 24” (jumbo machinder) robots. As well as collect originally produced ones.
What are some of your favorite things? Like, anything, really. Tell us about yourself!
Wow, favorite things…. let’s see. I was an avid bowhunter, actually have three animals in the record books. I love the woods. Just being in them is relaxing to me. I enjoy wood working. Any type of finish carpentry and cabinetry. I’m a huge movie buff. My latest obsession is the Marvel movies!
How has the public/the fandom received your work? Are people typically nice about what they see or do they nit-pick?
Well, I was one of the first to start turning older originals in to customs that have never been done. So, my work has been received really well. So well in fact that one of my pieces is now in Italy, in one of the biggest collections in the world.
What are some of the challenges you face making your custom figurines?
Now, cost. Back when I first started, I could pick up a “beater” original for $20-$30. Now it’s hard to find one for under $125. Another is figuring out which character to do next. So many great Super Robots that made a great anime. Hard to turn it in to a toy and still keep the 1970’s-80’s feel to it.
When did you know that a lifetime of art was in your inevitable future? Is this a hobby or a career? How do you make time for the things that you love?
I knew when I was 16 and was offered a scholarship to The Art Institute. From there I was a tattooist for 18 years. After a small pause and 2 moves, I found out that they released a 24” version of my favorite robot from my childhood in Japan. I had to have it! With some help, and a third-party proxy, I finally got him 2 years later. In the mean time I found 6-8 more that I really liked. That was the beginning of an obsession that would prove to be both frustrating, and unbelievably rewarding! There is no better excitement than a giant box arriving from Japan, Italy, or France!!
When did you decide to make the leap into Pop Culture art? What was the show or movie that really inspired that for you?
Well, the very beginning was when I was about 13-14, I guess. My cousins received a Godzilla, Great Mazinga, and a Reydeen 24” Shogun Warrior for Christmas. They were so cool! From there I found the Marvel Shogun Warriors comics and die cast toys. That started me toy collecting. Then I saw Trazor Z, Mazinger Z, and Getter Animes. That sealed it. I was officially addicted!
What would you say are your biggest fandoms? The ones you enjoy most or consider yourself part of?
Hhhhmmm….. Mazinger Z / Great Mazinga, Grendizer, Getters, and Godzilla. Those are the bulk of my collection. I learned of most of the jumbos from Robot Japan and ToyBox DX. Much respect and love for both of those sites. I learned so much on there and met some of the best guys you’ll ever meet on the forums.
What are some fandoms or hobbies that your own fans wouldn’t expect? Something that never makes an appearance in your art?
My love for home remodeling. I also collect Elegant Depression Glass from the 30’s-40’s.
Where do you currently sell your pieces? Are you in the convention scene? How far do you travel to build your platform?
I don’t sell my customs. I do them strictly out of love, and I like to keep them truly one of a kind pieces. But I do have a couple of friends who sell the 3d printed ones. I do go to the local conventions, but it’s purely as a spectator. Very rare that I find my robots there.
Is there anything new in the pipeline for you? Do you have any upcoming projects or secrets you want to share with us here at PopLurker?
Oh yeah! There’s a new Great Mazinga villain (Minos) in the works. Also a Jet Jaguar, a Black Widow to go with my Thor and Capt. America, and a 31” version of one that I’ve already done.
Working on a few projects with Tristan Bernardo, Wesley Bourne, and William Hoyt. Some of the biggest names in the jumbo community. And three of the best friends a guy could have.
Do you have any social media or an online store? How can our readers find you and your awesome work? Plug yourself, your projects, and give me all your links!
Other than the Forums that I’ve mentioned, there’s a few other groups that I’m involved in on FaceBook. But I guess the best place would be my personal Facebook page. I have most of my customs and my collection of all the produced ones in my albums. Also all the progress pictures of all the ones I’ve done.
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